WM: “Well, I guess the Spirit River Trail was built after the people were in the country. It was built from the other end, from the other end of the railroad grade, as far as I know, I was never on before then. The only parts I remember is the muskeg, and high trestles, the bridges across the creeks and the old railroad camps that had been turned into stopping places. You made the stops as near as you could because all of them were made where there was lots of water.
“I didn’t trail much with cattle on the Spirit River Trail. Not near as much as a lot of people, I guess. I had some very interesting trips. And one was a trip alone I made, with Jack Hardy from Rolla, when he decided to sell out his cattle — that was many, many years ago. Most people would take a packhorse along, but Jack didn’t too much bother I guess. And we packed what food we could, run out of food going out.”
CT: “How many cattle did you have?”
WM: “Just three car loads, I think, which would be around eight head”.
CT: “And you had two horses?”
WM: “Just a saddle horse apiece. Yup, and we figures we could get grub on the trail. After we got out half way, the people all went to the sports at the Whitemud Hills, or someplace they said it was. We didn’t cash in on the grub very good. I call it a hard trip out there.”
CT: “How long did it take you to go out?”
WM: “Oh, that was a long time ago. Golly, I don’t know. It would take ten days, I imagine anyway, in them days, likely.”
CT: “And some nights you would have to camp out then. There wouldn’t be a stopping house all those times.”
WM: “Oh there would be a stopping place pretty near all the time”.
CT: “Well, the stopping places weren’t too far apart”.
WM: “No, they weren’t too far that’s for sure. Because when you freighted you doubled up (the horses) and you traveled faster doubling up but with the cattle you’d . . ”
CT: “When you went from Rolla, you went over Braden’s Crossing”.
WM: “Yup. Bear Creek, and through there, and got on the Trail at Grant’s camp.”
CT: “How did you manage when you came to a trestle. How did the cows act?”
WM: “You’d have to split them. And lead a few head at a time, got some of them going and the rest would go — half a dozen on the bridge at a time only. Otherwise they would go ahead and push each other off.”
CT: “So how tall were these trestles”.
WM: “Oh, too tall. Three tiers of timbers on some of them, piling on some of them. You couldn’t let the animals on them.”
CT: “If they were railway bridges they would have proper railing on either side”.
WM: “No, nothing. Nothing, a log laid on each side. The cattle just went across – they just had to go across in little bunches.”
CT: “I’ve heard stories of horses crowding each other, and teams would go over. I can’t imagine how the cows must have felt.”
WM: “Well, Sam Sufferin’s dog, when he’d be on the trail, he took care of the trestles, he’d keep the cattle from crowding on the trestles. He’d lay right at the end, and just let a few go at a time.”
CT: “My goodness, what a clever dog. How many trestles were there? Three or four. Number of times you would have to do this, then.”
WM: “Oh yes, it was easy. Lots of practice.”
CT: “There wouldn’t be much herding to do. The country wasn’t open like it is now.”
WM: “Oh no. It was just straight through the jungle and lots of timber. No trouble herding, they never tried to go back. Summer time when the grass was thick, they were easy to keep.”
CT: “Well when people went to stampedes and sports and so on, they used to stay awhile, didn’t they. Were they home then as you were coming back?”
CT: “But you traveled faster coming back. No cattle to bother with”.
WM: “One day I could come, one day and a half, one day and a night”.
CT: “Then you spent one night on the trail. At least you spent a night by yourself, somewhere along there.”
WM: “Yeah, stopped at Moose Creek when I come back”.